The quaint Village of McBride is often unfairly described as “remote,” and perhaps that was accurate in some distant past. Today, the trip from our front door in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island to McBride is comfortably completed in under seven hours: hardly “remote.”
My wife Karen and I made the brief trip this week. We spent three days getting to know McBride and the beautiful Robson Valley better and to meet many of the remarkable people who live there. Pat at the AG Market is a storehouse of local information. Donna and Andy at The Beanery inside the century-old CNR station (yes, you can still get on the Via train here and go west to Prince Rupert or east to Halifax), along with regular customer Mike, made us feel right at home with good coffee and friendly hospitality.
We popped into the Library and Museum on Main, meeting cordial librarians Doreen and Naomi along with legendary Mennonite settler Wayne Zimmerman whose memoir is available in the library’s lending system (and well worth the read). Right around the corner is the Village of McBride’s office where Sherri and Claudia kindly answered our questions and provided a much needed copying service. We ventured across the highway to say hello to the dedicated members of the RCMP. Corporal Ushock warmly welcomed us to the community he’s proud to serve, insisting we call him “Kyle.” Where else can you find that these days?
Our stay at the Sandman Inn was inexpensive yet provided quality accommodations and a down-home atmosphere in their restaurant which caters to a large and friendly trucking clientele. Sharon and Sandy at the front desk do a great job keeping their guests happy as well as contributing strongly to the hospitable ambience of the hotel.
The Gigglin’ Grizzly neighbourhood pub reopened on Valentine’s day this year and judging from the crowd of happy customers we encountered there, this family-friendly roadhouse is proving to be an exceptional socializing option for Robson Valley patrons. Linda and Chris Fry (who also own and operate Thunder Valley Towing assisted by their main man Adam) have the vision and enthusiasm the food business requires. Along with Executive Celebrity Chef Ray Lovell, his partner Chef Valerie Marcoff and their lively staff, this team is turning out fabulous food, serving locally brewed beverages and generating a cheerful atmosphere where “everybody knows your name.”
We purchased a small rental property in McBride in February. Being “distant landlords” often carries a stigma, especially if the landlords really don’t care about their tenants or their property. We found our tenants to be wonderful and caring people, of course. And to assist us with property improvements, we also found Dave Larrivee, the McBride electrician and go-to guy. Dave embodies what small town values epitomize: Integrity, knowledge, a quality network of reliable tradespeople and a positive attitude that only comes with caring, personal service. Dave likes to say, “McBride is a happy place!” And we agree most heartily.
We’ll be spending much more time in McBride in the months and years to come. With quick access by air from Comox through Prince George, McBride is within easy reach. Our opinion is that this one-of-a-kind village (with surprisingly affordable housing prices) should be considered by anyone looking for an alternative to burgeoning Canadian cities and towns with their sky-high real estate values, poor water, compromised air quality and a “remoteness” that is easily seen in the impersonal anonymity one finds in those places.
McBride is many things, but remote is not one of them.
Comox Valley, BC